Friday, September 12, 2014

Nine children in eastern Idaho treated for enterovirus

Three have been discharged

Express Staff Writer

     Nine Eastern Idaho children have been infected with a strand of enterovirus since Sept. 7, according to a Thursday press release from the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

     Six children are being treated at the hospital for symptoms consistent with Enterovirus D68, including three admitted Wednesday. Three others were discharged Wednesday to return home.

     Starting Thursday, the medical center implemented seasonal visitor restrictions; visitors under 18 cannot enter unless they’re the parents of a patient. Visitors with cold or flu symptoms are also prohibited. The hospital implements the restrictions every Oct. 1. They are in effect until late March, to protect patients who are vulnerable to illnesses. 

     Enteroviruses are common viruses that cause respiratory illnesses similar to colds. Most infected people have mild symptoms that do not require a doctor’s care. However, some states are reporting that children with underlying health issues, particularly with asthma or other lung conditions, are experiencing difficulty breathing and require supportive medical treatment.

     Enterovirus has more than 100 strands, said hospital spokesman Nathan Miller, and pediatricians warn that respiratory symptoms associated with Enterovirus D68 can progress quickly.

     As of Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control reported a total of 82 cases of lab-confirmed Enterovirus D68 in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri. News outlets in Washington and Montana announced outbreaks within their states as of Thursday afternoon.

     Symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or rapid breathing, wheezing, lethargy, mild or no fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, skin rash, body and muscle aches and mouth blisters.  

     Idaho public health officials are working with hospitals, public health districts, laboratories and health-care providers to identify clusters of respiratory illnesses caused by Enterovirus D68.

     People are advised to stay home when they’re feeling sick, avoid kissing, hugging or touching and sharing cups or eating utensils with sick people, wash hands often and frequently disinfect surfaces.

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